Life Worship Notes—January 23, 2104
“Then the Lord God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other Gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3
No Other Gods Before Me
When I was an adolescent, there was a clear distinction drawn between having a “girlfriend” and having a girl as a friend. There was a degree of exclusivity to having a girlfriend. There was a type of relationship in both cases, but I could have as many girls for friends as I wanted. I could only have one girlfriend, however; at least only one at a time. Particularly early in adolescence, having a girlfriend did not necessarily imply anything particularly romantic—holding hands, perhaps—but it did imply more time and attention was lavished on a girlfriend than a girl friend.
The wording of the first of the Ten Commandments is particularly interesting because of the words “before me.” The commandment does not say, “…you shall have no other Gods.” It says, “…you shall have no other Gods before me.” The implication is there may be other Gods apart from the God of Israel, at least in the understanding of the writer of Exodus. Certainly, Hindus recognize hundreds of Gods. Even so, my Christian upbringing left the indelible impression there is only one God. It reminds me of girlfriends from my past, who left the indelible impression there was only one girl!
Could there be more Gods than the one we worship? Those who distinguish our Christian God from the God or Gods of other religions intrigue me. My current understanding leads me to a belief in one God, even though I recognize there are many different understandings of that one God. I do not believe we, in our human state, have the capacity to grasp the entire vastness of our God. We latch onto that which is within our comprehension. Unfortunately, when we do not acknowledge there are aspects of God’s nature beyond our comprehension, we use our limited understanding to build a religious wall separating ourselves from others with a different understanding. We criticize another’s limited understanding of God by judging them, based upon our own limited understanding. Even so, whether we believe there is one God or many, the first commandment is unwavering that we are to have none above our God. We are to lavish time, attention, and praise on our God. After all, this is the God who freed our ancestors from their bonds of slavery in Egypt. The same God, today, frees us from the bonds of our slavery to sin. That is more than worthy of exclusivity from us.
Come home to church this Sunday. Come worship the one God.
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator